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Showing posts from October, 2007

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween, everyone. Of course, most South Africans don't celebrate the holiday (not that we should - it's an Autumn thing and we're in the middle of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere), but perhaps you should consider all those returning spirits as yet another reason to bolt yourself into your barred-up house this evening. Perhaps watch a horror film to celebrate.


One film that I would always recommend is Poltergeist - my favourite ever ghost-focused horror movie. In fact, I believe it's on the TCM channel on DSTV late tonight. I watched it on Monday evening after my copy of the remastered 25th Anniversary Edition DVD arrived from Take 2 (for just R54).

That's actually one of the scariest things about Poltergeist: The film is as old as I am! It certainly presents a fantasticly accurate and nuanced snapshot of domestic life in the 1980s.

I'm sure a lot of people thumb their nose at Poltergeist, saying this Steven Spielberg scripted (and apparently secretly…

Trailer Tuesday: Rambo

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Coming 25 January 2008, believe it or not, is the 4th Rambo movie. Yes, following in the steps of John McClane, Rocky Balboa, the Terminator and Indiana Jones (also returning next year), yet another 80s action icon is making a comeback 2 decades later.



Now I bought Rocky Balboa's comeback quite happily... I've always prefered that character to Rambo. So perhaps I'm being a tad critical when I say that Sylvester Stallone's look in the new Rambo trailer kind of disturbs me. He seems to have developed a weird combination of an overly hulking body and bloated, sagging face... When you recall what Rambo used to look like, it's something of let down.

Of course this change is obviously age related (ol' Sly is 61), but sometimes I do wonder if it's better not to leave things in their prime instead of pandering to geeky film audiences while simultaneously trying to reclaim glory years - soiling memories and losing all credibility in the process. Could a bulky senior …

Writing, work and WarCraft...

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Well, my weekend played out pretty much as I predicted on Friday. Writing, work and WarCraft...

I spent most of Saturday trapped inside (away from the glorious sunshine), working on the Novagen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu website. This is just a temporary design until I unleash a proper designer, cutter-upper and web programmer on it. However, I do think it's a vast improvement in the meantime...

On Saturday I also had a long chat with Paul in Chile, via Skype (which I'd never used before, having stopped using chat programmes 2 years ago). What can I say other than that today's communication systems truly are a Godsend for keeping in contact when you're continents apart?

*Raises a glass to the Internet and text messaging*

Speaking of raising glasses, it turns out that Paul had a late, boozy Friday night (I received an SMS at 7am - 2am Chile time). Then it was my turn on Saturday night, consuming 3-4 glasses of wine after a family braai.

Let's just say that playing World of War…

Fun for Friday

The Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok team are touring South Africa this weekend, so I thought I'd share the 2 related TV ads that I'm sure many locals are familiar with. The first is the much criticised 300-rip off. Personally I think it would have been fine if they hadn't put the players in those stupid green latex suits. Why couldn't they have just worn their green, gold and white rugby kit? And not run on all fours? I was all for the 300 knoff-off until those stupid overkill moments.



Anyway, Shoprite Checkers was very quick to spoof the above Sasol ad to promote their new championship boerewors (for non-Saffers reading this, that's a popular local sausage often eaten on our barbeques/braais). This ad is worth watching for Naas Botha's incredible embarrassment alone. "Tonight, we braai!"

A busy weekend

Well, I've got a busy weekend ahead of me - busier than if Paul was here even.

There's my mother's school play tonight: a Sword In The Stone-style take on King Arthur's teen years. Then after the play I'd like to squeeze in an hour or so of World of WarCraft, levelling my undead warlock again - and completing the quest series that gives me my tank-like Voidwalker minion. I'm tired of my fragile little Imp minion, who has the habit of dying at the most inopportune moments, leaving Euridycce alone to face 3 magically-resistant undead foes.

Friday evening is likely going to be my chief WOW-playing evening because I'm pretty sure I'll be working on my PC for the rest of the weekend - completing a music review for one of the freelance projects I'm involved in, as well as an overhaul of our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club website. Well, it'll be a simplified place-holding design until I can recruit a proper web designer and write up a full brief for them. Of…

My Coke Fest 2008

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5FM and Coke have announced the first few acts performing at My Coke Fest 2008, the all-day rock festival that is becoming a much anticipated annual event in South Africa.

Next year's line-up:

Korn
Muse
Chris Cornell
Kaiser Chiefs
Good Charlotte
Prime Circle

Tour dates:
Friday, 21 March 2008 - New Market Racetrack, Johannesburg (Gates open at 10h00)
Monday, 24 March 2008 - Kenilworth Racetrack, Cape Town (Gates open at 10h00)

Ticket prices:
Golden Circle - R600.00 - INCLUDING Computicket service charges
General Admission - R400.00- INCLUDING Computicket service charges
General Admission (Student) - R330.00- INCLUDING Computicket service charges

Bookings open at Computicket from 9am this Friday, 26 October 2007.

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For the 2nd year running, Durbanites have been shut out, denied of their own concert. And at the moment I personally can't decide if I'm going to make the trek to Joburg again.

On the one hand it would be awesome to see Korn live. I'm not the biggest fan of the …

Brokeback Hogwarts

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"Why hello, little boy..."

In case you haven't heard by now, Albus Dumbledore is gay! Yes, Harry Potter author JK Rowling has "outed" a dead fictional character - the celebrated headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry - and the world is in an uproar.

Frankly, I think the announcement is a very odd thing to do.

On the one hand, it's kinda cowardly to make such a dramatic and controversial revelation (Gay characters in a children's novel?! And the hero's much-loved moral mentor too?!) when it no longer can impact on sales. It's kind of like announcing that Will Young was gay only after he'd rode the adoration of many young girls to win the first UK Pop Idols. If you want to make a statement against bigotry and ridiculous prejudice by showing gays as courageous, self-sacrificing heroes, don't leave it as a post-script. Be upfront about it. Then again, I'm reacting as if Dumbledore is a real person, and not a string of le…

Robb'n in da hood

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Oh yes, I forgot to mention what I was up to last Thursday... our company was manning a hole at the ABF (Advertising Benevolent Fund) Golf Day. Essentially the fun day is an attempt to raise money for charity. Certain holes are adopted by an advertising agency or media company, who then have to adopt a theme and come up with a related activity for the golfers (local advertising types and their clients) to complete - after donating some cash, of course.

Our agency's theme: the medieval-meets-gansta Robb'n in da Hood! Golfers had to shoot a beer can off the back of a target foam-warthog using a bow and arrow. If the golfer missed, they were placed in stocks and had wet sponges thrown at them. Afterwards they were rewarded with a beer and a hot dog.





Apart from the fact that we had authentic Sherwood Forest weather for the entire day (i.e it was wet and cold), and it'll be a long while before I can eat another hot dog, the Golf Day was a lot of fun. I mean, how can you not have …

Trailer Tuesday: An American Crime

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Halloween is rapidly approaching, so expect the number of horror movies released in cinemas to jump considerably in the coming few months. However, there are many different kinds of monsters. And sometimes the most horrific stories aren't made up. Sometimes they are lifted straight from real life...



Watching this trailer, I actually don't know if I can sit through An American Crime, which graphically documents the degradation, torture and murder of teenager Sylvia Likens by suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, and her children in the 1960s. All the while neighbours deliberately ignored the poor girl's screams. The film version of this forgotten slice of shameful American history looks grim, grim, grim. Hell, the trailer actually made me feel sick to my stomach.

What I do think will go a long way towards luring people into cinemas are the 2 superb, gutsy actresses who head up this film: Catherine Keener as Gertrude and Ellen Page as Sylvia. Most moviegoers will recognise …

"I'm so wonely, so wonely..." Weekend

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This weekend saw Paul’s departure to Chile for a full month. Seeing as he’s literally on the other side of the world, and has only limited communication access, I’m doing my best to keep myself preoccupied. Weekdays aren’t so bad seeing as I have something on every evening, but going it solo on weekends takes some getting used to. Mostly I’ve been taking time out for a little “me” time. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

After dropping Paul off at the airport, I was roped into helping my uncle and aunt with some preliminary moving stuff. I did very little of the packing and lifting – instead I was mostly monitoring my baby cousin, who has this amazing knack for finding the most dangerous items in the midst of the chaos to play with.

For the record, driving around on Saturday, there were people everywhere wearing the green and gold Springbok colours, and several cars, including ours, were trailing large SA flags. This said, I actually didn’t watch the Rugby World Cup Final properly. My nerve…

Stardust

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There’s one scene in particular that sums up the unusual tone of Stardust, the new fantasy film based on the novel by author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Charles Vess. After many adventures and trials, a character gives in to their long-suppressed emotions and declares their love… to a mouse.

The mouse is actually a human under a spell, but the scene still provides a good example of Stardust’s light-hearted spin on fantasy conventions. This isn’t to say that Stardust isn’t pretty conventional on the whole, but it does also feature some amusing, offbeat touches.


Stardust centres on young Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox), an English shop boy who lives in the quaint village of Wall. Tristan seeks to impress local village beauty Victoria (Sienna Miller) by retrieving a fallen star from the neighbouring magical kingdom of Faerie. However, Tristan’s mission is complicated by the fact that in Faerie the fallen star is actually a miserable young woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes) – who is also being purs…

Celtic Rock

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We did the family outing thing on Tuesday evening and went to Gateway's Barnyard Theatre to watch Celtic Rock. That's the Theatre's festive season show for this year and it runs until 6 January, with reduced price specials on Tuesdays and Sundays.

I'm pleased to report that Celtic Rock, which features both traditional and contemporary music from the Emerald Isle, is a refreshing change after so many "This era in music" tribute shows. As a result it's one of the best of the recent Barnyard productions. As a plus the cast features several Irish and English performers - for that extra touch of authenticity!


I'll admit that many of the drinking songs were lost on me, but out of the tracks I recognised, highlights include a Corrs medley, U2's Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl, Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares to You and the well-known traditional songs Toss the Feathers and River Dance.

The "heaviest" song of th…

TMNT

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TMNT, otherwise known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is nowhere near as kiddie-fied as the trailer would have you believe. But unfortunately for this 3D-animated film, it also isn’t much of anything else…

The problem seems to lie mostly with the film’s brisk 86-minute running time, and a simplistic storyline – involving inter-dimensional portals and monsters – that is plagued by all-too-convenient plot holes and almost zero character development.


Audiences unfamiliar with the TMNT universe are also likely to be confused, seeing as there’s no real introduction to the characters, or their histories. Even the Turtles’ all-important origin story is only referred to in passing.

TMNT is clearly a film for existing fans of the iconic heroes in a half-shell. Whether you read the original independent comic series, succumbed to the first Turtles craze in the late 1980s, or watched the edgier 2003 animated series, TMNT draws on characters and story arcs many Turtles devotees will be familiar wit…

Trailer Tuesday: Golden Compass new theatrical trailer

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A while ago I posted up the teaser trailer for The Golden Compass. Now the final trailer has been unveiled in the build up to this family fantasy's worldwide release in early December.

I've been reading the novel in preparation, and I'll be finishing it off as soon as I complete the first story in the Earthsea Quartet (Ursula K. Le Guin's paperback was a lot easier to transport overseas than Philip Pullman's massive The Dark Material tome).

Regardless, this new Golden Compass trailer gives a far more accurate reflection of the alternate universe the characters inhabit, where Polar Bears are ferocious humanoid warriors in the North, and every person has a personal "daemon" spirit, a lifelong companion.


But of course, what would a family fantasy film be without controversy? According to the IMDB, the Catholic League is in the process of launching a campaign to deter people from watching the film. If I remember correctly this is the same group that freaked out …

Weekend amusements

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I caught 2 movies this weekend, CGI-animated TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and whimsical fantasy Stardust. Except my reviews here over the course of the next few days.

And before I get blasted for not inviting the Durbs crowd to Stardust, it was a last-minute decision to see it on Sunday evening at the Pavillion – World Cup Rugby had yet again replaced the Sunday evening blockbuster on TV, and I wasn’t up for the tension of a semi-final Springbok match (I’m convinced bad things happen when I’m in the room watching!). Plus, the cinemas were gloriously empty.

Anyway, I’m a “widow” for a full month starting Saturday, so I’m super keen to tag along again when people want to go see Stardust… or any movie. Just drop me an SMS or email. I’m obviously free more often on weekends than weekday nights.


So Friday evening was Turtles, and Sunday evening was Stardust. On Saturday I had to house- and sick-grandmother-sit so that gave me a chance to enjoy some serious World of WarCraft playing. …

Bolding going where many have gone before...

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I'm no Trekkie. Well, I used to watch The Next Generation, and that related series of films, but when it comes to sci-fi geekiness I've always prefered George Lucas's Star Wars universe. Must have been those cute, fluffy-bum ewoks appealing to my girlie sensibilities.

Anyway, the following piece of info just made me a helluva lot more excited for the 2008 Star Trek "remake" (focused on Captain Kirk and Co's early years, and directed by Lost's J.J. Abrams). Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz's Simon Pegg is set to play the Enterprise's engineer, Montgomery "Captain, we don't have the power" Scott. This is according to Ain't It Cool News.


It was also announced the other day on the same site that Chris Pine is in negotiations to play Captain Kirk. You would have seen Pine most recenty in ensemble crime caper Smokin' Aces as one of the chainsaw-wielding neo-Nazi brothers.


Meanwhile, Zachary Quinto, who plays Heroes' villainous (bu…

Tintin

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Over the past few weeks there have been a number of announcements about comic and graphic novels now set to be adapted for the big screen. One of the most high profile of these is a trilogy based on the Tintin series of comic books by Belgian writer-artist Herge.


Lifelong Tin Tin fans Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson plan to film 3 CGI-animated movies, using motion-capture as a basis for the animation. All digital work will be done by Weta Digital, the special effects studio who worked most famously on Jackson's King Kong and Lord of the Rings series.

According to this recent Ain't It Cool News interview, if Spielberg and Jackson can't find a third director for the third film in the trilogy, they'll probably split the directing duties amongst themselves. And they have a healthy $100 million budget to play with.

I think the big question about a Tintin movie series is how it will capture the imaginations of a 21st Century movie audience? When it comes to iconic European c…

Bad for business

Last night I joined a friend for their birthday at Musgrave. The idea was simple: dinner followed by movies. But at 6:15pm, while we were in the restaurant waiting for our order, the shopping centre plunged into darkness.

Apparently something had exploded with a big bang down in Pick 'n Pay, which shortcircuited the entire centre's power supply.

Now Tuesday is a big night for Musgrave Centre. Thanks to crime fears and general laziness South Africa is not a nocturnal society (at least during the week) - generally all the shops are closed and people locked up in their homes by a self-imposed curfew of 6:30pm. But on Tuesday, with Half-price Movie Night at Ster Kinekor, there's actually some life in the mall. Granted the place booms more over the school holidays, but restaurants FINALLY seem to have realised the money spinning potential of the evening all year round, and most now offer their own Tuesday specials.

A lot of business and a lot of money was lost last night. At 8pm, …

Ratatouille

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Released in time for the school holidays, Ratatouille is the latest animated collaboration from Pixar and Disney. It’s also the latest from writer-director Brad Bird, the man behind Pixar’s instant superhero classic The Incredibles, as well as Warner Brother’s touching The Iron Giant.

Ratatouille follows Pixar’s story-strong tradition. Plot and taunt action sequences are prioritised ahead of wackiness, outdated pop culture references, an obvious celebrity voice cast and fart jokes – which seem to have become staples in today’s 3D animation genre. Ratatouille’s focus on storytelling is a refreshing change, particularly for audiences older than 8 years old.


If you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ll have a pretty good idea what Ratatouille is about. In a twist of fate, Remy, a rat with amazing culinary instincts, finds himself living under Gusteau’s, a Parisian restaurant that has seen its fortunes decline since the death of its iconic chef owner.

All Remy wants to do is cook, but when his p…

Trailer Tuesday: Sweeney Todd

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I always have time for Tim Burton (I even watched his worst movie – the soulless Planet of the Apes remake). Along with Neil Gaiman, Burton is one of my major creative/career role models. And next up from this former-animator-turned-film-director is the gothic serial killer musical (you read that right!) Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Not that you’d actually guess from the trailer above that the film is a musical. But it is.

Think of Sweeney Todd as the antithesis to Hairspray. It’s the big screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical (itself based on 19th Century penny dreadfuls) written by Stephen Sondheim.

The film focuses on a mild mannered barber, Benjamin Barker, who is falsely accused of a crime and shipped off to an Australian penal colony. When Barker returns 15 years later, now calling himself Sweeney Todd, he discovers that he has lost his family – his beautiful wife committed suicide after being raped by the corrupt judge who sentenced Barker in the first …

The weekend

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The weekend was something of a mixed bag. It started with watching Pixar’s latest animated movie Ratatouille at Musgrave, followed by dinner at Circus Circus (where I had a surprisingly awesome seafood pasta).

You can expect my review of Ratatouille up here either later today or tomorrow. But the 3-word summary? Well worth seeing! My review will also be appearing on the Headshot website, which is now up and running, and rapidly growing with updates every Monday.


For those of you who don’t know, Headshot is intended to be South Africa’s equivalent of IGN,Gamespy or Gamespot – a gaming lifestyle website that is unaffiliated to any magazine publication. In terms of my contribution I’m a little burnt out in terms of video game commentary after the past 2 years with GEAR. So for now I’m sticking to movie reviews and other non-gaming articles.

Paul’s become something of a Greekophile since getting back from Athens this last week, so when we heard that 300 had FINALLY been released on IMAX

Return to Athens, return to reality

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After returning from Mykonos, I spent a further 2 full days in Athens before returning to South Africa. Paul’s work put us up in a hotel closer to the offices he was visiting, which meant we were outside the “tourist” zone in the southern part of the city. Instead, we got to experience Athens life more “authentically”.

The hotel was in Nea Kifissia, a presumably upmarket suburb which you get to by catching a bus from the Metro station at the furthest north stop. We came to the conclusion very quickly that our hotel must be a “quickie hotel”. In our small room there was a giant mirror suspended alongside the bed, the vending machines down the corridor dispensed the all important combo of cigarettes and condoms, and the satellite TV selection included 2 channels of hardcore porn.


Meanwhile, in the surrounding area all we could find foodwise was a crepes kiosk, while otherwise there was a bank, 2 giant pet stores (Greeks love cats and dogs!), furniture emporiums and a sparkling car deale…